‘You’re part of the problem!’ BBC QT audience member clashes with panellist over net zero

Question Time: 'Little children going hungry' says audience member

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Julia Hartley-Brewer, who appeared as a panellist on the BBC’s flagship programme, lashed out at a woman in the audience after she questioned why Britain was “still entertaining domestic fossil fuel extraction”. The audience member said: “I think with the price rises we’re seeing and the volatility of fossil fuels across the globe, whatever domestic energy in terms of extraction of gas in the North Sea fracking, it’s going to be a drop in the ocean whatever we manage to contribute domestically.

“Because we cannot compete with what the big fossil fuel providers are doing for global markets.

“So that in conjunction with net zero targets and the herculean efforts of sustainability consultants like me to aid companies to decarbonise their organisations and to lower global atmospheric carbon emissions, why on earth are we still entertaining domestic fossil fuel extraction?”

The talkRADIO presenter slammed the woman’s claims and question arguing that even if the UK met the Government’s target of net zero in 2050 “what would it achieve?”

She said: “You’re part of the problem madam, this move to net zero in a randomly plucked date in 2050 – which by the way was decided in parliament after a 90 minute debate – I’ve spent longer choosing socks than that for goodness sake.”

The audience member quipped back: “It’s not about a date, it’s about a reduction in global atmospheric carbon emissions to reduce a global temperature rise.”

Ms Hartley-Brewer responded: “We’re not going to hit it but if we did what would it achieve?” 

The woman hit back: “It will stop ecosystems collapsing.”

Ms Hartley-Brewer denied that an ecosystem collapse could be prevented if global carbon emissions are reduced.

The woman then accused Ms Hartley-Brewer of being a climate change denier, saying: “Yes it will, you can be a climate change denier Julia.”

Ms Hartley-Brewer denied the accusation, responding by asking if it would make much difference given the small amount the UK contributes to global emissions.

She said: “This is your field, it will have less than 1 percent of impact , do you think that is going to make a difference?”

The audience member responded by pointing out that the effort to tackle climate change was a global one.

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She said: “It’s a global effort, it’s global organisations, It’s a global problem, it’s not about individual targets.

“It’s about everyone working together to reduce atmospheric carbon to reduce the rise in temperatures so that we don’t see a further escalation of ecosystem collapse around the world – increases in volatility of weather patterns, flooding, forest fires, refugee crisis – climate change is a huge disaster.”

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor in Chief of The Economist, agreed with the need to transition to renewable energy but argued that fossil fuels were a necessary part of that transition.

She said: “There is one really important thing to remember.

“I absolutely agree with you that we need to move as fast as possible to a renewables based future.

“But in the best possible outcome we are going to need fossil fuels for that transition.

“Particularly natural gas, which is a fuel that is an important transition fuel. So we need to invest in that too.”

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